A couple of months ago, I received some samples form a small cigar company located in the quaint and historic Florida town of Tarpon Springs – the original sponge capital of the state. The company – Serafin De Cuba Cigars – is a 4th generation cigar manufacturer that dates back to the 1890s when the Antonio Serafin, the Great Grandfather (Abuelo) of current owner Arnaldo Serafin arrived in Cuba from the Canary Islands, Spain and settled in Cuba’s premier Tobacco Region, Pinar Del Rio.
According to the company’s website:
Abuelo was there for a short while before he decided to relocate to another great Tobacco Region, Las Villas where he found better opportunity. During his years in Las Villas, he owned and operated his own tobacco farm where he grew and farmed tobacco plants in the “Shade”. He was also an expert Tobacco Leaf Selector, blender and curing expert, and was always very involved in the rolling process as well. This was a time old tradition our Ancestors also did in the Canary Islands, Spain which is where he learned this art. Abuelo Antonio did very well with his tobacco and Cigar business, until ultimately his passing in 1936.
When Abuelo passed, Arnoldo’s Grandfather Ramon was a young Adult, but thanks to the fact he was involved in the business at a young age, he was also well experienced and ready to go forth with the family business. Abuelo Ramon quickly made good contacts in all of Cuba for his cigar distribution, and tobacco sales, and even introduced numerous new brands throughout the Island. He was a true Cigar Master who always enjoyed what he did, and always earned a decent living doing it. Arnoldo remembers when he went to Cuba to visit him, he was already in his mid 70’s, but he still rolled and smoked his own cigars! He was amazing. Unfortunately, He passed away in 1995 also.
Arnoldo‘s father Ramon Jr. learned the tobacco business from Abuelo also at a young age , and also grew up in the tobacco fields of Las Villas. At this point Dad figured this was a family legacy he truly wanted to preserve, so up until the time he came to the United States, he was involved in the business with Abuelo. Unfortunately for my family, as well as many Cubans, Castro rose to power in 1959 and nationalized all the businesses there, and destroyed a beautiful country. Ramon immigrated to the United States in 1968 and settled in New Jersey where he found work in numerous industries, but his eventual goal at heart was to return to the Cigar business. Many years later and after much deliberation, he moved to Tarpon Springs, Florida and because of his Cigar making abilities, he was able to quickly re-establish himself and start making his own line of Cigars again here on US soil.
For Arnoldo, It was a life long dream come true to now be involved with his father in their little Cigar business. Ever since he was a kid he was always around him and fellow tobacco experts and he remembered listening to them relate their stories about Cuban tobacco, and the processes involved, and how important that was to creating a great cigar. Arnoldo truly hopes he can pass his knowledge, and family history to his Son when he grows up. It truly is a beautiful Art.
So what does a small cigar manufacturer in Tarpon Springs have to offer? You are about to find out as I present a review of one of their prized blends the Flor De Tampa.
Flor De Tampa is a classic brand from the early 1900’s that Arnoldo resurrected. He describes it as a super premium smoke. Serafin De Cuba Cigars decided to make it to pay tribute to Tampa’s rich cigar making history.
The Flor De Tampa blend is described as:
- Wrapper – Ecuadorian Habano
- Binder – Nicaraguan
- Filler – Nicaraguan
They are expressed in 3 different vitolas and come packaged in 12-count boxes:
- Torpedo (6.5 x 50) – MSRP $10.00
- Toro (6 x 50) – MSRP $10.00
- Sublime 6.5 x 54 – MSRP $10.00
For this review I sampled two Flor De Tampa Toro’s which I received from the company for the purpose of reviewing on Stogie Press.
The Serafin De Cuba Cigars -Flor De Tampa sports a dark tan and fairly smooth habano wrapper that has just a few noticeable veins and a light oily sheen. The cigar is well constructed from head to foot with a solid packing and an expertly applied triple cap.
A single band adorns the cigar that uses the same design as the the original brand from the early 1900’s paying proper tribute the history of cigar making in Tampa.
I ran the Flor De Tampa along the nose and was pleased the light baking spice along the barrel and even more intrigued by the chocolate and raisin notes off he foot.
Once I sliced the cap with straight across the shoulder of the cigar, I proceeded to give it some cold draw puffs that were spot on with restriction and offered an early introduction to the personality of the cigar with notes of pepper and earth.
I reached for my double flame torch to warm the foot and draw in the first puffs of smoke to start the journey. Follow along as I burn the Serafin De Cuba Cigars -Flor De Tampa Toro to ash.
Cigar Review Notes
- Initial puffs were a tad harsh on the palate
- After a few puffs it begins to settle in with a growing natural tobacco sweetness
- Definite pepper on the retro hale
- Light grey ash forms on top of thick char line
- The draw is smooth, delivering a full volume of smoke
- Slight off burn has been noticeable but not needing a touch up
- Ash fell in good chunk revealing a slightly off centered burn cone
- Cream notes enter to add to the sweetness
- Strength moves up to a solid medium
- Mild spice joins the mix adding a pleasant dimension
- Burn remains a bit jagged
- Pleasant nuance of nut fills in the profile both in flavor and aroma
- A light, cubanesque floral note enters moving into final third
- Burn goes off a notch again
- Dry cocoa powder and spice in final
- Medium in strength
- Total Smoking Time was 1 hour and 40 minutes.
The Serafin De Cuba Cigars – Flor De Tampa toro was moderately complex, medium strength, pleasurable smoking experience. I found the flavors to be well balanced and transitioning well from foot to nub. The early pepper was toned down well with the introduction of cream and natural sweetness that maintained through a good portion of the journey. The burn was a slightly jagged and it did have some off burns but never needed a touch up. This is certainly worth picking a fiver or even a sampler of the three vitolas in the line. I rate this a 90.
Point Deductions: (-1) Harsh Start; (-1) Slight Off Burns; (-1) Jagged burn; (-1) Off Centered Burn Cone